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Omlet blog entry 18.12.2020: "How to Catch a Chicken" - very strange

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Ahem, I have ishooos with the advice in this blog by "Sarah from Omlet" 

"How to catch a chicken" entry in the Omlet blog 18 December 2020

Quote

Only very tame pet hens enjoy being picked up. Most chickens find the whole procedure stressful, so you should only catch or handle them if you have to.

First, as with any domesticated animal, it is easier - and nicer for both you and hen - to look after the hen if she has been accustomed to being handled.  A hen is not a wild bird.  Omlet's "customer base" is pretty well only people who keep domesticated, pet hens, isn't it?

Second, ideally one should check the hen's crop every morning and evening.  This will help to ensure that signs of something going wrong, eg impacted crop (by the morning, the hen's crop should be empty), are detected early.  It is also a good idea to check regularly under the wings for signs of mites (and treat the hen for them), rather than wait until the hen actually becomes ill.  Ditto, scaly leg mite.  One can't do any of this without picking up the hen.

Thirdly, the most astonishing thing about this blog entry is that, in the list of methods for catching a chicken, I can see no mention of just holding your hand over a laying hen's back so that she stands still and squats and can easily and quickly then be picked up.  This made me wonder if "Sarah from Omlet" has ever kept hens ...  Please try that, first, before getting out your pole, net or box.

Anyway, I offer the above in good faith, written from my experience (about 10 years of learning from mistakes, too) of keeping back garden hens for their eggs, none of whom ever displayed any stress when being picked up.  Some positively seemed to enjoy being carried.  All my hens would sell their grandmothers for mixed corn and coming running when I offer this to them.

Thank you for letting me get that off my chest!

Hope everyone is managing to stay safe and well.

 

 

 

 

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I think the blog has sound advice. Chickens are prey animals and inherently don’t like to be constrained.

I have only had 2 hens so far that let themselves be picked up. The others will try to get away and I have had chickens, and currently have Gerda, who absolutely detest being held. I only catch Gerda to deworm her and can’t do this at night as my neighbours will think I’m murdering someone. I have to physically keep Gerda’s beak closed to prevent her from screaming her lungs out.

And I can tell you that hens like Gerda can’t be caught by just keeping my hand over her...

I think you are lucky never to have encountered a skittish hen in 10 years of chicken keeping. 

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1 hour ago, Cat tails said:

I only catch Gerda to deworm her and can’t do this at night as my neighbours will think I’m murdering someone. I have to physically keep Gerda’s beak closed to prevent her from screaming her lungs out.

If it's any help, I worm my hens by giving each a grape cut in half with the cut side dipped in Flubenvet (then the excess powder knocked off) every day for 7 days.  I don't have to pick them up to give them the grape: they love grapes and, greedy things that they are, grab and eat their half-grape and try to eat the others' Flubenvet-ed grapes too.

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11 minutes ago, hilda-and-evadne said:

If it's any help, I worm my hens by giving each a grape cut in half with the cut side dipped in Flubenvet (then the excess powder knocked off) every day for 7 days.  I don't have to pick them up to give them the grape: they love grapes and, greedy things that they are, grab and eat their half-grape and try to eat the others' Flubenvet-ed grapes too.

Thanks, but I worm them with iverquantel from the vet. It’s a liquid that you need to administer in their beak directly.

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I haven't read this blog, but I'd probably react to it H&E, but I don't agree with some of your points.

Catching a chicken using a net is a terrible way to start a relationship, which is what you should be trying to do, so that is never an option. They need to be checked regularly and need to be handled., whether they like it or not. If you don't check your birds properly you are not acting for their best welfare. Start by checking poo's every day because that's the first indication of problems. The second is when they don't talk to you. Then think about picking them up, because lice and mites are minor problems. Checking their crops isn't that easy unless you have TNN's. It's rare to get chickens that like to be handled, even when you have bred them and picked them up every day. Cockerels are usually the friendliest.

Hens won't crouch unless they are laying, so that's not going to work . I my experience that's quite rare. Yes, it seems from the blog that Sarah hasn't much experience, but I don't know Sarah and can't comment. But you must pick them up, so try to do it carefully. Grain is a great distracter, but using it to ambush them isn't going to instil trust.

The Flubenvet method you describe H&E, does it ensure the correct dose is administered?

Time for bed.

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I've now read the blog and can't see anything wrong with it. Yes, chickens don't like to be handled generally and should never be handled (unless it's an emergency) during a moult. We fetch them out of the run by gently cornering them. Then extend the left hand and keep the right hidden, which drives them to your right. At the last moment extend your right hand and catch them in the chest, the scoop them up with both hands and handle as Sarah's blog. Some breeds are more difficult to pick up and in my experience Orpingtons have a centre of balance so far forward that covering the wings at the same time is difficult. Try wrapping them in a towel.

Using a hook around the leg has a very good chance of dislocating their hip, so is to be avoided completely.

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21 hours ago, Cat tails said:

I worm them with iverquantel from the vet.

Came back to say: if, if as it seems, worming is an ordeal for both you and your hen, why not switch to Flubenvet and make it fun instead?  A small tub of Flubenvet would last ages and ages.

But if you do decide to do this, you might have to move fast and order it before the end of December because 94% of veterinary medicine used in the UK is made in Europe.  I have no idea what is going to happen about that after the end of the transition period.

21 hours ago, Beantree said:

Catching a chicken using a net

I am not the one suggesting using a net, hook, pole or box to catch a chicken.

Edited by hilda-and-evadne
Add word for completeness.
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6 hours ago, Beantree said:

the scoop them up with both hands and handle as Sarah's blog.

Your saying that made me go back and check - Sarah omits to say that one hand should then slide under the hen's body to support it and make her feel secure, with your fingers lightly around the hen's legs, and the other hand is on top of the hen holding one wing (the other wing is against your body).

21 hours ago, Beantree said:

Grain is a great distracter, but using it to ambush them isn't going to instil trust.

The hens have mixed corn as a treat mid-afternoon.  They trust me because of everything I do for them, and it isn't - in my view - perceived by the hens as an ambush: they can see what I am trying to do - pick them up - and they go for the grain anyway.

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21 hours ago, Beantree said:

Cockerels are usually the friendliest.

Some cockerels  I have bred several from hatching eggs and learned that cockerels all appear to be "hard-wired" to fight anything - your legs, other cockerels.  Only one would stand still very nicely and wait to be picked up, if I put a hand over his back.  Like almost any animal, poultry can be trained to some extent.

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I have to agree with you H&E, it does read very strangely and I wonder who is doing their copywriting.

I could maybe read true for wild birds and swans (oil spill, catch pole or noose!?) but not for a domestic chicken. The whole blog could have been summarised as:
Herd them into a corner and scoop them up confidently.

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1 hour ago, hilda-and-evadne said:

Came back to say: if, if as it seems, worming is an ordeal for both you and your hen, why not switch to Flubenvet and make it fun instead?  A small tub of Flubenvet would last ages and ages.

They don’t sell Flubenvet in the Netherlands. So I’ll stick to iverquantel. Btw the grape thing wouldn’t work for Gerda either, as she doesn’t even take food from my hand. She will always run away from the fence, if I move around in the garden. Truus and Merel would just get double dosage! 😂

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I used to buy the tubs of Flubenvet but they stopped selling them, and anyway it went out of date too fast, so I’ve switched to Heygates Layers pellets with Flubenvet.  Keep them in the run, feed no treats, and job done.   But I also use the Westgate Poop sampling kits as they don’t always need worming.   It’s £9.95 a kit so cheaper than just routinely worming and better for them to only do it when needed. 

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On 12/19/2020 at 6:26 PM, Cat tails said:

They don’t sell Flubenvet in the Netherlands. So I’ll stick to iverquantel. Btw the grape thing wouldn’t work for Gerda either, as she doesn’t even take food from my hand. She will always run away from the fence, if I move around in the garden. Truus and Merel would just get double dosage! 😂

The grape method isn't recommended by the manufacturers of Flubenvet and those entries on the forum where corrected in later posts to reflect that - those corrections wouldn't have shown up in your diligent search though ;)

Flubenvet should be administered in their feed to ensure a steady dose through the day, and each bird will adjust the dose per their body weight by the amount they eat.

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